Asian inspired lamps – Half Laps

For those of you that read the article, you soon realize that a good part of the assemblies are joined with half lap joints.  The matting parts half cut to joint the other part.
My tools of choice for these joints include :

  • Cross cut saw (in my case a carcase saw)
  • Chisels (varying sizes)
  • Router plane (small and large)

Could a power router be of good use or a dado set in a table saw ? Yes but these pieces being so small, I prefer the hand tool approach.  Getting my body parts so close to the blades would be too dangerous for my taste.

I first start by defining the dimensions in width and depth of the laps.  both measurements are based on the matting part so I am sure I get the proper dimensions.

Once the layout is done, I first start by cutting the exterior perimeter of the lap with the cross cut saw, then cut some saw marks in between these marks as deep as the mark to help out hogging the material.

Saw mark for helping cutting the half lap into one of the members
Saw mark for helping cutting the half lap into one of the members

Once this is done, I will chisel out the waste between the lines, removing the bulk of the waste.  I will refine the depth of the half lap with the router plane.  This in not a tool to hog out a whole loot of material at a time, so please take little bites and take your time until the joint is flush with it’s matting part.

For the half lap that are at the end of a work piece, I used the band saw, set with the appropriate distance between the fence and the blade and cut the waste out in the tip direction.  I then crosscut the waste out and used the router plane to finesse the joint.

By the time you have cut the different joints of all the components, you should get pretty good at cutting the joint.  For this specific project, be careful that you cut the half lap on the proper side for the proper components. I made this error and had to redo 2 sides because the joints were not cut on the proper side.

Bruno Quesnel

Craftperson Responsible for this site